Moving to Mesa

If you’re moving to Mesa, Arizona, be prepared for adventure around every corner and 300 days of sunny skies. The art scene in Mesa is vibrant and inspiring. Over 200 sculptures decorate the downtown area, and a wide range of studios and galleries keep art lovers entertained. The intriguing Sonoran desert will keep you busy hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, tubing, and exploring mysterious canyons.

In addition to nourishing your adventurous spirit, you can also find plenty of places in Mesa to nourish your body. Surrounded by farms offering some of the freshest produce in the valley, you can enjoy seasonal delights including oranges, olives, and peaches at Mesa farmers markets. From a quick artisanal sandwich to the finest dining experience, you’ll enjoy the variety of cozy cafes, welcoming restaurants, hip coffee houses, craft breweries, and inventive wine bars available throughout the city.

You may be planning to spend your days on Mesa’s golf courses, or maybe you’re planning to move to Mesa for outstanding employment opportunities to challenge your talents. Whatever your reasons for moving to Mesa, you’ll find friendly residents, plentiful amenities, and a sunny desert climate where you can fulfill your dreams. Welcome to Mesa! 

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Living in Mesa, AZ: What to Know Before Moving to Mesa

Mesa, just a few miles east of Phoenix, is located in the rapidly expanding Phoenix Metropolitan Area. In August 2019, the Mesa population was 439,041, but over 4,857,962 people live in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Only a 30-minute drive from three different lakes and two rivers, Mesa provides plenty of opportunities for water sports, including tubing, fishing, and boating. Usery Mountain Regional Park has 3,500 acres to explore, with countless trails, stunning scenery, and unique hanging gardens. There is also a thriving art culture, with the Mesa Art Center leading the way. This complex boasts four theaters, five art galleries, and 14 art studios. 

Pros and Cons of Living in Mesa

Just like everywhere, you’ll find pros and cons to living in Mesa.

Pros:

  • Sunsets – Although there are mountains in and around the area, the landscape, and the desert skies work together to create exquisite desert sunsets. 
  • Fall, Winter, and Spring – These three seasons are wonderful in Mesa. It doesn’t get too hot; the evenings are cool and pleasant. Winter nights can be a bit chilly, but it rarely gets extremely cold.  
  • Location – Although there’s plenty to see and do right around Mesa, there are times when you want to get out and explore. Mesa is in an ideal location. By making about a six-hour drive or less, you can visit San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or the Grand Canyon. 
  • Baseball – Arizona is home to Spring Training Baseball. Half of the Major League teams train in and around the Mesa area and compete in The Cactus League. The facilities for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics are both in Mesa, with all of the other teams being at most an hour’s drive away. 

Cons:

  • Summer – Mesa is in the desert, which means that during the summer the temperatures soar. The average temperature in July is 106, and Mesa has a record high of 119. You’ll soon learn that most people head indoors at the beginning of June and come back out again in September. 
  • Monsoon Season – With July and August come the monsoons. These rapidly forming and intense thunderstorms can be beautiful and awe-inspiring, but they also bring with them flash flooding and hail. 
  • Tap Water – The tap water in Mesa is drinkable, but not delightful. It has a taste that many find off-putting, and many residents feel the need for water delivery services. 
  • Critters – Since Mesa is a desert city, Mesa residents sometimes share their homes with desert critters. This list of pests includes snakes, tarantulas, black widows, and scorpions. 

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax:  The property tax rate in Mesa is 0.802%. This rate is 0.04% lower than the rest of Arizona, and 0.409% lower than the national average. 
  • Sales Tax: The combined sales tax rate in Mesa is 8.3%. This rate includes the Arizona 5.6% sales tax, the Maricopa County 0.7% sales tax, and the City of Mesa 2% sales tax. 
  • State Income Tax: The Arizona state income tax rate is 4.54%. This rate is on the lower end of the scale compared with other states in the country. 

Housing Market

As of August 2019, one might describe Mesa’s housing market as competitive. The majority of the people who live in Mesa buy their homes, with only about 33% of the population renting.  As of July 2019, the median home price was $252,400, which is slightly higher than the national average. 

The median rental price was $1500, which is lower than the national average. If you’re looking for more affordable housing in Mesa, look in the neighborhoods that are closest to I-60 freeway, further east near Apache Junction, or consider some of the mobile home parks. 

Cost of Living

The Mesa cost of living is slightly higher than the national average. Bestplaces.net uses a cost of living index based on the national average of 100. Cities with a cost of living index under 100 are less expensive, while cities with a cost of living over 100 are more expensive. 

The cost of living index for Mesa is 113.6, with a score over 100 in the categories of housing, health costs, utilities, and transportation. Grocery and miscellaneous expenses are under 100. 

The average US median household income is $53,482, while the median household income in Mesa is lower, at $48,259. With many retirees on fixed budgets, the median in Mesa is lower than the US average; however a family with two working parents can expect to earn more. According to the Family Budget Calculator, a family of four would need to earn $91,024 a year to live a moderate lifestyle in Mesa. 

Weather & Natural Disasters

Mesa’s weather reflects its desert location. The city sees three main seasons, which are considered by locals to be summer, monsoon season, and the rest of the year. Average high temperatures are over 100 degrees F May through September. July is usually the hottest month with average highs of 106. The coolest months of the year are December and January when average highs are around 66 to 67 degrees, and average lows are in the mid-40s.

Total annual rainfall adds up to about 9 inches. March is the rainiest month of the year, which sees an average rainfall of 1.18 inches. There are only three months of the year where it rains over one inch: March, January, and August. It doesn’t snow in Mesa – well maybe an inch every decade – but monsoon season usually starts at the end of July and continues through August. 

Flash floods resulting from sudden thunderstorms during monsoon season, hail, and associated power outages are the main natural disaster threats. There’s very low risk for earthquakes and tornados, and no risk for hurricanes. The city of Mesa has created a Family Preparedness Guide to help residents prepare for any emergency. 

Economy & Job Market

Mesa is the second-largest city in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area and the third-largest city in Arizona. The economy is growing and is projected to continue the growth trend. The unemployment rate is 4.1%, but the job market has increased by 3.3%, and the projected job growth for the next ten years is 47.1% compared to 33.5% in the US. 

The top industries are education, healthcare, aerospace, technology, and tourism. If you’re seeking a job in Mesa, there are plenty of opportunities, especially if you’re seeking a career in technology. Major corporations such as Boeing, Mitel, Fuji, Guided Therapy Systems, Bridgestone, and Google all have locations in Mesa. Google recently purchased 187 acres to build a $1 billion campus, and WageWorks, Inc. is locating its national operations here. 

Indeed.com, simplyhired.com, ziprecruiter.com, arizonaatwork.com, snagajob.com, and careerbuilder.com are just some of the job search websites you can access when you start looking for work. Executives will want to hire a headhunter or check out careerchange.com, a website exclusively for executives earning over $250,000. Whatever your earning range will be, make sure your resume is up to date and thoroughly polished before submitting it to potential employers.

Traffic and Transportation

Public transportation options in Mesa are somewhat limited but include local bus service and metro light rail that can take you west to Phoenix, across the East Valley, or north to Glendale. Despite these options, Mesa earns a transit score of 27 out of 100. 

If you prefer to drive, I-60 runs east to west, right through the heart of Mesa. Loop 101 runs north to south and marks the western boundary. Loop 202, also known as the Red Mountain Freeway, curves around the north of Mesa then turns north-south to create the city’s eastern boundary. 

Morning traffic can be heavy if you’re traveling westbound on I-60. Conversely, the evening eastbound commute can also be slow. You may be disappointed by Mesa’s limited walking options. According to walkscore.com, Mesa’s walk score is 37 out of 100, meaning it’s a car-dependent city. Certain neighborhoods accommodate walking or jogging for exercise, but when you need to commute or run errands, distances are too far for most walkers. However, the bike score is 57, which means you can pedal your way around much of the city. Forbes Magazine named Mesa one of the top 10 cities in the US for bicyclists because of its 40+ miles of bike lanes and access to almost unlimited desert biking trails.

What to Do

Mesa is a city that truly offers something for everyone. You’ll find plenty of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, opportunities for art lovers, and an abundance of games for sports fans. 

The City of Mesa has over 200 parks available for public use, with hiking trails, swimming pools, playgrounds, and sports fields. The Mesa Arts Center is home to four theaters, five art galleries, and 14 art studios. Mesa is also home to the Arizona Museum of Natural History, the Mesa Grande Cultural Park, and the Commemorative Air Force Aircraft Museum. 

Even though most of Mesa lies in a flat valley, you may be surprised at the freshwater and mountain-based activities that are available in addition to the wonders of the Sonoran Desert. Explore the Usery Mountains for amazing outdoor recreation such as hiking, horseback riding, climbing, birding, and more. Saguaro Lake and Red Mountain Lakes plus the Salt River provide opportunities for boating, fishing, paddle boarding, rafting, tubing, kayaking, and birding. 

The Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics spring train in Mesa, and the Dobson Ranch Golf Course has been rated the best in the area. 

Schools and Universities

The Mesa Public Schools district is the largest public school district in Arizona with over 64,000 students enrolled. The school district is listed as the 23rd best school district in Arizona even though Arizona is ranked 46th in the nation for education. You’ll find several high-quality schools in Mesa, including the Self Development Charter School, Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, and ASU Preparatory Polytechnic STEM Academy. Private and charter school options are also available.

Mesa is home to several four-year colleges: Benedictine University and Arizona College Mesa. Arizona State University is only 7 miles west in Tempe. Community college and technical school options include Mesa Community College and DeVry University. 

Crime

When ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 indicating the highest crime rate, Mesa has a rating of 37.6 for property crime, which is slightly higher than the national average of 35.4. When it comes to violent crime, Mesa is rated 19.3, lower than the national average of 22.7. There are no pockets of high crime in the city, but the westernmost part of Mesa, close to Guadalupe and Tempe, are higher crime areas. 

Utility Providers

When moving to Mesa, you can rest assured that it will be easy to obtain utility services. Just allow yourself plenty of time to open your new accounts before you move.

  • Gas Service – The City of Mesa provides natural gas service. You can request new service simply by visiting their website and following the “Request Service” link.
  • Electric Service – APS is the primary electricity provider for Mesa.  You can request new service by visiting their website and following the “Start Now” link. 
  • Water Service – The City of Mesa also provides water service. Request new service by visiting their website and following the “Request Service” link.
  • Trash pick-up/Recycling Service – The City of Mesa also takes care of trash pick-up. Visit their website and following the “Request Service” link.
  • Internet/Cable Service – The primary providers of internet and cable services in Mesa are Century Link and DIRECTV. Request new service on their websites or call the number listed under the “Order Now” tab. 

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Best Neighborhoods in Mesa, AZ

Mesa is a large city, but as with most metropolitan areas, it’s broken up into many different neighborhoods, offering you a variety of lifestyle choices. Following is a list of some of Mesa’s best neighborhoods. 

The Groves

The Groves neighborhood is in central Mesa, nestled between N Lindsey Road to the west, N Greenfield Road to the east, E Brown Road to the north, and E University Dr to the south. Charming homes line easily walkable streets, Mountain View and Los Alamos Parks provide plenty of space to run and play, and the community pools provide a refreshing and fun way to cool off from the Arizona heat. 

  • Population – 5,555
  • Home Price – Median home value 315,300
  • Rent Prices – $1800 
  • Schools – Franklin Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, Pilgrim Lutheran School

The Groves is mainly a residential neighborhood, but several apartments and mobile home communities are available for renters. Homes range from modest 1,200 square foot two-bedroom ranch styles to grander 4,000 square foot five-bedroom villa-style residences. 

Several popular restaurants have found their homes in this community. You can try some cinnamon roll French toast or a custom cake from Sassy’s Café and Bakery, fill up on soda and candy at Fiiz drinks, or enjoy a tasty Mexican dish at Los Betos.

Something to try:  Visit the Arizona Museum of Natural History to learn about the cultural and natural history of the Mesa area.

Las Sendas

Tucked up against Usery Mountain Regional Park, Las Sendas is one of Mesa’s most desirable neighborhoods. North of the Red Mountain Freeway, aka the 202 loop, N Power Road to the west, and the park creating the north and east boundaries, this attractive community allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. 

  • Population – 7,516
  • Home Price – Median home value $427,300
  • Rent Prices – $2,000
  • Schools – Las Sendas Elementary, Franklin Elementary

Homes range from two-story three and four-bedroom transitional styles of around 2,500 square feet to five and six-bedroom estate-style homes of over 4,500 feet. Most homes have pools, and many have lovely views of the Phoenix Metro Area below. 

The Usery Mountain Regional Park offers nature enthusiasts amazing options for hiking, biking, exploring the hanging gardens, and learning about the fascinating desert plants and animals that live in the park. Once you’ve worked up an appetite after your park adventures, you’ll have your pick of several great restaurants. Try Pacino’s, hang out with friends at Echo 5 Sports Pub, or have a romantic evening at D’Vine Bistro & Wine Bar. 

Something to try: See how to make cigars at Royal Tobacco and Cigar.

Lehi

Over 8,000 people have chosen to settle in beautiful and luxurious Lehi. This sprawling community is in northeast Mesa, along the Red Mountain Freeway, roughly between Center and Gilbert Roads. The Salt River winds along just north of the neighborhood. Residents are attracted to the plentiful open spaces where at times they to share the road with horses. 

If you’re planning to make Lehi your permanent home, you’ll need to purchase a house as there are no long-term rental properties in the area. Vacation rentals are available but plan to lock in a rental agreement well in advance of snowbird season. 

  • Population – 8,424
  • Home Price – Median home value $490,100
  • Rent Prices – $200 per night for a vacation rental
  • Schools – Hermosa Vista, Franklin Elementary 

Lehi prides itself on the fact that it was founded before Mesa, although it eventually became a part of the younger city. Because of the available groundwater near the mountains, Lehi has traditionally been an area of alfalfa growing. The three- to fifteen-acre fields that are currently for sale will most likely be purchased by developers who will eventually build more homes.

Something to try: Visit the Mesa Historical Museum and learn all about Lehi’s rich history.

Marlborough Mesa

The small and sweet community of Marlborough Mesa is west of S Alma School Rd, east of S Exit Road, south of W Guadalupe Rd, and north of the Western Canal. Complete with its quaint community park, Marlborough Mesa Park, you’ll instantly feel at home in this quiet, serene neighborhood.

  • Population – 1524
  • Home Price – Median home value over $272,700
  • Rent Prices – $1,700
  • Schools – Franklin Elementary

If you are looking for outdoor recreation, Marlborough Mesa is an excellent home base. Dobson Ranch Park is just a short walk to the west where you’ll find 10,000 square feet of multi-layer play adventures designed to appeal to toddlers up through seniors. You can reserve a shaded ramada for family and friends BBQs, and the Dobson Ranch Golf Course is an added attraction that locals enjoy. 

Something to try: Grab and partner and fly along the 50′ double zip line in Dobson Ranch Park. 

North Center

Located in the northern central portion of Mesa, the aptly named community of North Center is just a short drive away from the Salt River. With the Red Mountain Freeway as a northern boundary, W McKellips Road to the south, Highway 87 to the west, and N Mesa Drive to the east, this pocket of quaint homes is convenient for commuting and running errands. You can enjoy the offerings in the area, or hop on the freeway and quickly make your way to any of the countless amenities in the Valley of the Sun. 

  • Population – 2,250
  • Home Price – Median home value $252,400
  • Rent Prices – $1500
  • Schools – Whitman Elementary, Kerr Elementary, Riverview High School

As you explore the area of North Center, take a minute to sample the local flavor. Grab a bite to eat at Cindy’s Arizona Café or the Moose and Bear American Grill, and then head on over to the Fitness Works Gym to work off your meal. You’ll find that North Center is a great place for a family. 

Something to try: Slather on your sunscreen, then spend an afternoon tubing the Salt River with family and friends.

Northgrove

If you’re looking for an affluent community with palm tree-lined streets that may make you feel like a Hollywood star, take a close look at Northgrove. Located in the center of Mesa, Northgrove sits south of E McKellips Rd, north of E Brown Road, and between N Lindsey Rd and N Val Vista Drive. The community has several attractive and popular parks, with splash pads, basketball courts, and sprawling fields.

  • Population – 1987
  • Home Price – Median home value $528,900
  • Rent Prices – $2500
  • Schools – Hale Elementary, Vista Grove Preparatory Academy, Franklin Elementary

Homes range from grand 5,000 and 6,000 square foot five to six-bedroom villas to more modest 2,400 square foot three and four-bedroom one-story homes. Many homes have pools, entertaining patios with fountains or waterfalls, and lovely desert landscaping. 

Northgrove is just a few blocks from Falcon Field Airport and the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. The neighborhood has several dining choices, ranging from fast food such as Sonic or Filiberto’s to the exciting Vito’s Pizzeria. Complete with a dance studio and massage center, this community has everything a busy family could need.

Something to try: Check out the amazing range of restored aircraft at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. 

Red Mountain Ranch

Located in the northeastern part of the city, Red Mountain Ranch is a beautiful and serene community. There are ample walking and hiking trails in the nearby Tonto National Forest, and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages enjoy exploring the desert landscape. 

The Red Mountain Ranch community is between N. Recker and N Power Roads. E Thomas Road forms the southern boundary. Custom homes vary from one story rambling pueblo styles with professional desert landscaping, to more modest 1800 square foot one-story two-bedroom homes. Many properties have gorgeous views of the city. 

If you dream of building your perfect desert escape, you can still find lots for sale. Maybe you’d like to rent for a bit while deciding on your final neighborhood. A few rental homes and vacation rentals are available, but there are no apartments. 

  • Population – 2353
  • Home Price – Median home value $363,800
  • Rent Prices – $2500
  • Schools – Red Mountain Ranch Elementary School 

If you find yourself lucky enough to live in Red Mountain Ranch, you’ll undoubtedly spend a great deal of time at the Red Mountain Ranch Country Club. You can play golf, take a lesson from one of the pros, and enjoy a meal at either the Player’s Grill & Patio or The Overlook Dining Room.

Something to try: Relax with a cool beverage on the patio at Player’s Grill while you enjoy a classic Mesa sunset. 

Ridgeview

Just south of the Red Mountain Freeway, between N Recker and  N Powers Roads lies the Ridgeview neighborhood. This classic Arizona neighborhood has vast views of the unique Sonoran Desert. Homes vary in size from about 1,800 to around 4,000 square feet and feature one- and two-story styles. 79% of residents own their homes; this is a premier destination for families moving to the Mesa area. 

  • Population – 2,295
  • Home Price – Median home value $306,000
  • Rent Prices – $1500
  • Schools – Red Mountain Ranch Elementary, Franklin Elementary

A great way to get a unique view of the community is to hop on a bike and head to the Desert Trails Bike Park. Even though developers designed the park for mountain biking, there are hiking trails that take you up to beautiful valley views. Get a close look at the native plants and marvel at the way new neighborhoods are springing up everywhere you look. If you want to go further than a bike can take you, jump on the Red Mountain Freeway (220 loop) to explore more of the east valley. Commutes are easy from Ridgeview since you’re so close to the loop.

Something to try: After an afternoon exploring the Desert Trails Bike Park, pedal along the scenic Salt River for some gorgeous desert and riparian landscape viewing.

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